// Retail & wholesale the worst hit in terms of furloughed staff – claiming £3.3bn for 1.6m workers
// In total, 1.1m businesses have claimed cash from the Treasury to help support their furloughed staff
New government data has revealed that retail was one of the worst-affected sectors during the lockdown, with businesses claiming £3.3 billion to fund their furloughed staff salaries.
The government data shows that around 1.1 million businesses in total have claimed cash from the Treasury to help support their furloughed staff during the coronavirus lockdown.
Wholesale and retail businesses were the worst hit, claiming £3.3 billion for 1.6 million workers.
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The data further reveals the destruction wrought on the hospitality sector, with accommodation and food services companies furloughing 1.4 million people, and claiming £2.6 billion in furlough cash.
Around 60 per cent of the all the companies across all sectors who have furloughed at least one worker have fewer than five employees.
These firms have claimed a total of £2 billion for the close to one million employees they have furloughed.
At the other end of the spectrum, around 6300 companies with more than 250 staff have furloughed 2.5 million people.
These bigger businesses have claimed a total of £4.9 billion to cover the salaries of their staff.
The UK Government launched its jobs retention scheme in March to allow companies to retain their workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Treasury paying up to 80 per cent of their salaries to a maximum of £2500 per month.
In England, 6.5 million jobs had been furloughed by May 31, dominated by London and the South East, at over one million each.
Around 628,000 workers have been furloughed in Scotland, 317,000 in Wales, and 212,000 in Northern Ireland, the figures show.
The data acomes two days after it was revealed that more than a million businesses have claimed around £35 billion in government-backed loans via the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), its counterpart for larger businesses called CLBILS, and the bounce back loan scheme.
The government is now set to ease the support for businesses using the furlough scheme to keep their employees on the books.
While Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently confirmed that the furlough scheme would remain unchanged through June and July, it would begin to taper off from August 1 when employers will be told to pay national insurance, tax and pension contributions for its employees on the scheme.
From September 1, the government would drop the coverage to 70 per cent of staff salary up to £2190 a month, with employers asked to make up the 10 per cent shortfall as well as all the tax contributions.
By October 1, Sunak said the government would cover 60 per cent of salaries to a cap of £1875 a month, with employers asked to foot the 20 per cent difference plus the tax contributions.
The Chancellor said the changes ensures workers on furlough will keep receiving 80 per cent of their wages up to £2500 a month until the end of October.
with PA Wires